Thursday, October 30, 2014

Detective Comics by John Layman issue #17

Gotham City attracts the crazies, they say, but it also has the ability to create them and tragically allow them to thrive. Some of them become criminal masterminds who make it into the legendary roster of the rogues' gallery who Batman needs to fight time and time again, while others merely play second fiddle to all that major chaos, yet still have their own unique brand of insanity to give the Dark Knight some exercise. Layman's two-issue story arc explores the heap of these other lone killers out there which was what the Merry Maker and his League of Smiles were supposed to be. Sure, the story may have ended in a predictable twist, but the potential for a compelling narrative and stellar characterization wasn't completely squandered.

This issue still delivered something memorable and one of those was the Merry Maker's visual design. Seriously, he looks very badass! I don't have any fear of clowns but any masks with elongated beaks like he had does give me the chills. It's also the same effect that a gas mask has on me, actually. I think the problem, however, was that his goal as a villain was pretty weak. It was something personal (which was to kill his ex-wife). There was no grander scheme to his work; he merely took advantage of the mentally ill and made them believe they were chosen to do the Joker's work. Granted, the backup story later on revealed his intentions with a better perspective, especially since it included cameo appearances of the Joker and Harley when she was still Dr. Quinzel.

I wasn't really surprised when the Merry Maker was revealed to be a psychiatrist himself who picks out patients he may manipulate to bring out their darkness and inclination for chaos to the fold. It's a very Hannibal Lecter thing to do and though that in itself is not original, it's nice for Layman to touch upon that greedy side of human nature, which is to make profit out of anything, no matter how horrible such things are. People will always find a way to exploit anything that is convenient. The Merry Maker certainly did not shy away from doing so with his League of Smiles (who are actually quite interesting themselves but the issue did not dwell more on their pasts to reveal what pushed them over the edge and maybe Layman didn't because we were never going to see them again anyway, which is a shame). The real lasting creepiness of this issue lies on that backup story. The Joker Effect is very much real and it can infect anyone. Never underestimate the rawest form of chaos and its uncanny ability to get under your skin when you least expect it. It just goes to show that everyone has a darkness but only some a very few special individuals are more eager to claim theirs---and harness it into something potently evil.


No comments:

Post a Comment